watchOS 11: Smart Stack Gains Live Activities and Suggested Widgets

Introduced in iOS 16, Live Activities changed the way users interact with their iPhone. Instead of getting multiple notifications when tracking a delivery or a sports score, for example, users see a single, dynamically updating Live Activity with real-time information right on their Lock Screen.

live activities watchos 11
Starting in watchOS 11, when a Live Activity begins on your ‌iPhone‌, it now automatically shows on your Apple Watch at the top of the Smart Stack, allowing you to keep tabs on it just by raising your wrist. (Notably, Apple has also made it so that the design of clock at the top of the Smart Stack aligns with your current watch face.)

Apple Watch users will know that the Smart Stack is usually accessed from the watch face by turning the Digital Crown. But in ‌watchOS 11‌, the Smart Stack can now open automatically when a Live Activity starts, and will remain visible when you lower your wrist.

When you tap on the Live Activity, it opens the relevant app, and if there's no associated Apple Watch app, it turns into a convenient fullscreen view with a button to open the app on ‌iPhone‌.

Screenshot 2024 06 13 at 11
If a Live Activity begins while you are in another Apple Watch app, it will appear in a special compact version at the bottom of the display. If you pull up on the compact view, it enlarges into the full widget, and if you tap on it, you'll be taken to the app or fullscreen view.

In ‌watchOS 11‌, Apple is also introducing "Suggested widgets," or widgets that the system intelligently adds or removes in the Smart Stack based on what's relevant in the moment.

For example, if it's about to rain in 15 minutes, a new precipitation widget will appear in the Smart Stack ahead of time, and then disappear when the sky clears. Cues for suggested widgets can include location, date, sleep, fitness, and more.

shazam widget watchos 11
Another example is the Shazam widget. It automatically appears in your Smart Stack when there's music playing around you so that you can use it to identify the song, and it will disappear when the music stops.

Lastly, Smart Stack widgets can now be interactive, and developers can bring toggles and switches into play, allowing users to perform quick actions without launching an app. An individual widget can be used to turn smart lights on and off, for example.

‌watchOS 11‌ is currently available to developers for testing purposes, with Apple planning to release the software to the public this fall.

Related Roundups: watchOS 10, watchOS 11
Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

Reason077 Avatar
5 weeks ago
I never really use the "smart stack" on my Watch, to be honest. Too small and convoluted to be of much use. The Watch is pretty good at putting the apps you're using/need on the screen automatically, so Smart Stack seems like a mediocre solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

My main wish for WatchOS is better watch faces and complications. In particular, watch faces that clearly display active timers in a large font, without having to do any interactions to see the timer other than raising your wrist!

This is something that iOS does very well, why not WatchOS? Why is it so difficult?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarAnalogy Avatar
5 weeks ago

I never really use the "smart stack" on my Watch, to be honest. Too small and convoluted to be of much use. The Watch is pretty good at putting the apps you're using/need on the screen automatically, so Smart Stack seems like a mediocre solution for a problem that doesn't exist?

My main wish for WatchOS is better watch faces and complications. In particular, watch faces that clearly display active timers in a large font, without having to do any interactions to see the timer other than raising your wrist!

This is something that iOS does very well, why not WatchOS? Why is it so difficult?
I'm not sure what you mean by putting apps on the screen automatically. Since WatchOS 10 I've found it much more difficult to get to the apps I use, since they killed the Dock.

I still don't understand why they had to do that, and still haven't brought it back in the updates since.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Simmias Avatar
5 weeks ago

Do we really need a clock in the smart stack and why? I'd rather use this space for other widgets because I do not need an extra clock after looking at my watchface. :D
The clock at the top of the widget stack is one of the most baffling design decisions on the watch. It's redundant with the watch face and requires an extra full turn of the crown to see any useful information.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Webcat86 Avatar
5 weeks ago

The Smart stack is probably the least welcome feature on my watch (Apple watch user since Series0). I am left handed so I wear my watch on my right wrist. The digital crown is facing away from my hand. This means, it very often slightly touches/rotates the crown when wearing certain clothes. Up until watchOS 10 no problem, but since 10 it often activates Smart Stack unwantedly, with no way to disable it. Let's hope watchOS brings some way to disable this.
Why not go into settings and tell it you wear it the other way? I did that because I found whenever I do push ups, the crown bumps into the back of my hand. So now I wear it with the crown on the other side
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarAnalogy Avatar
5 weeks ago

I completely agree. I haven't updated my iPhone since 17.3.1 just so I can have my watch on 9.6.3. I really don't see why the dock was removed as I find it a feature I almost can't bare to lose. I've asked family members and friends who have updated to Watch OS10, they tell me it's fine I just need to get use to the changes. I'm holding off at least until iOS18 is officially released before I decide. At least I'll have a few more months with the dock..
I’ve gotten used to every other change. But getting rid of the Dock was downright user hostile, no other way to say it.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Prince Akeem Avatar
5 weeks ago
The Smart stack is probably the least welcome feature on my watch (Apple watch user since Series0). I am left handed so I wear my watch on my right wrist. The digital crown is facing away from my hand. This means, certain clothes often slightly touch/rotate the crown. Up until watchOS 10 no problem, but since 10 this often activates Smart Stack unwantedly, with no way to disable it. Let's hope watchOS brings some way to disable this.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)